What tastes sweeter than sugar? Natural, non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit do. While eliminating all things sweet from your diet is the best option for your health, there are occasions where a little sweetness makes a food or beverage more enjoyable.
Yes, we’ve purged almost all sugar from our diets but add a little sweetener in coffee, but we’re still trying to learn to love unsweetened coffee. How about you, can you drink it straight? More power to you.
What do we use to sweeten coffee? We had used stevia almost exclusively but branched out into monk fruit recently. We believe these two sweeteners are the best alternatives when you need to sweeten something. The reason?
Monk Fruit vs Stevia:
- Both are natural and derived from plants.
- Both have zero calories
- Neither has a significant impact on blood sugar
- Both are intense sweeteners, meaning you don’t need a lot
So, the purpose of this article is to tell you more about each, how they differ, and what the pros and cons of each are. Here’s what you need to know.
Where Do Stevia and Monk Fruit Come From?
Both Stevia and monk fruit come from plants. Stevia comes from a herb in the chrysanthemum family called stevia rebaudiana while monk fruit is, as the name implies from a fruit. Monk fruit, also known as lo huan go, grows in small orchards in Southeast Asia. Monk fruit is even used medicinally in Asian countries. Supposedly, it improves digestion.
How are they made? Once the appropriate parts of the plant are collected, various methods are used to extract the “sweet” components. For stevia the sweet components are called glycosides, compounds with just the right structure to tickle your sweet taste receptors.
While stevia sweeteners are widely available, monk fruit is only now gaining mainstream distribution. That’s because there are fewer orchards that grow monk fruit as compared to stevia plants and fewer facilities for extraction. As a result, monk fruit sweeteners are more expensive.
One thing we like about monk fruit is the plants that produce the fruit are breed via traditional breeding techniques – no genetic modification. Stevia sweeteners are also not genetically modified, although some, like Truvia, contain additives, including erythritol and natural flavors. For the record, erythritol appears to be safe.
Recently, some stevia makers are experimenting with fermentation to create a better-tasting sweetener. One problem with some stevia products is they leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth. Fermentation may eliminate some of these bitter tones. Although fermentation alters some of the components, based on what we now know, it shouldn’t pose a health risk.
Stevia vs. Monk Fruit: Which is Sweeter?
With regards to sweetness, stevia and monk fruit are pretty much “even Steven.” It’s been awhile since you heard that phrase, right? Both are around 200 to 250 times sweeter than sugar. Because of the bitter aftertaste that some stevia formulations leave behind, monk fruit has a better taste, although it depends to some degree on what you’re using them to sweeten.